Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition and stress-related disorder that may be developed after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal such as death, violent personal assaults, war, natural or unnatural terrible events, severe physical harm, violence or being threatened. Among the common symptoms of PTSD are severe anxiety, flashbacks, intense fear, helplessness, hallucinations, uncontrollable thoughts about the event, strong emotions and nightmares. Also, there may be physical symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic attacks.
The above symptoms are not the only indications of manifestation of PTSD, three of the following avoidance symptoms may suggest the presence of PTSD illness:
- When the person starts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations related to the event
- If the patient starts avoiding people, places or activities that may trigger memories of the event
- Having difficulty remembering important aspects of the event
- When there is a significant reduction in interest or participation in important activities
- Feeling of alienation from others
- When there are visible emotions
- Sense of a foreshortened future
Also, two of the following hyper-arousal symptoms must also be present to validate the existence of PTSD in a patient:
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Inability to concentrate
- Angry outbursts or irritable mood
- Exaggerated startle response
It must be stated abundantly clearly that flashbacks are not the only symptom, because people may have flashbacks only when under intense stress. PTSD symptoms are dominated by avoidance of triggers of the event, nightmares, hypervigilance, and others mention above.
Types of PTSD
There are three different types of post-traumatic stress disorder and these depend on the length of the period at which the illness persists. The classification is according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
- Acute PTSD: This manifests if symptoms last less than three months.
- Chronic PTSD: The illness is categorized as chronic if symptoms last at least three months.
- Delayed-onset PTSD: The disorder is referred to as delayed-onset PTSD if symptoms manifest at least six months following a traumatic event.
It has been stated earlier that the possible causes of PTSD are probably a shock experienced when a person witnesses a psychologically traumatic event, during the war, a natural disaster, or any situation that invokes feelings of helplessness or intense fear.
As it is common in the case of mental health issues, why some people develop PTSD cannot be exactly ascertained. According to some research, probable causes of PTSD may include inherited mental and personality traits, a culmination of life experiences, and the way hormones and chemicals are regulated by the brain when responding to stresses and the likes.
How to End the Stigma
Social stigma is a common phenomenon among people of culture and in the society. It occurs when a dominant social group in the society perceives the members of a less powerful group as a collective “other” instead of being categorized as equals or potentially valuable contributors to the culture or society as a whole. In its most simple form, stigma can manifest as outright discrimination that clearly limits the stigmatized person’s ability to do such critically important things as find employment or gain access to needed services. In addition, whenever there is avoidance of the “other” in social situations, it is an indication that stigmatization is imminent.
People (not only PTSD patient, it may include the drug addicts) are stigmatized when others view them in a generally negative light because of narrowly perceived characteristics or attributes they possess. Another term that refers to the same phenomenon is, “negative stereotyping”. One solution that has been assumed could reduce social stigma for those suffering from PTSD is to remove the D (for disorder) from PTSD. By dropping the label of disorder from the name of the ailment, it is felt by some professionals, that some of that social stigma would be removed. But another school of thought believed that dropping the ‘D’ could make it difficult for veterans to gain access to medical assistance.
The following are the measures that can aid the effective campaign to put an end to the stigmatization on people suffering from PTSD.
- Because most often people have the wrong impression about this people and thereby have some negative myths in mind about the sufferer of PTSD. To curb this menace, there should be awareness of public stereotypes impacts on people suffering from this disorder and to change people negative orientation.
- There must be a campaign to end the stigma surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder and some other mental health issues, after the depression. Some agents like Hope & Grace Initiative, National Alliance on Mental Illness and Each Mind Matters have been working assiduously in putting an end to it.
- The Mental Illness Education ACT program aims to educate the community about PTSD and how to identify it, as well as reduce the surrounding stigma must be implemented to its fullness.
- Peer-based outreach and therapy groups should be organized that may help veterans engage in treatment early and resist stigma.
- The misconception that only soldiers in war zones are affected by the disorder should be changed. This has affected some sufferers not to know the nature of their sickness and thereby denying themselves from getting adequate attention from the medical personnel.